I know I have been focusing on Handmade Holidays this season, but I have to make a small interjection... But before you get the wrong idea--no, this isn't a post about that annoying habit of asking for cash for the holidays in lieu of presents. BTW--I hate that! I'm always wondering how much I should give, and feeling pressure to give more than I normally would because it's...well...cash, and then feeling guilty for not giving more. It's all very...exposing for some reason. Just ask for presents already!
Ahem...anyway...rant aside, this is a post about holiday debt, and about my plan to stay out of it. How? By spending with cash.
You see, I've been saving a small about of money every month through an automatic transfer from my checking to my savings to use for holiday spending. Kind of like the old-fashioned "Christmas account" (don't worry--I hadn't heard of them either until I worked at a bank. Apparently they were quite popular, but have recently fallen out of fashion). And in order to stay within my spending budget, I've decided to try one important trick: spending cash at the stores.
Yes, I hate spending with cash. It annoys me to have to go to the bank, and then carry around change. Plastic is so much easier. So fast, so light in my wallet. Unfortunately, also so easy for me to lose track of how much I'm spending!
I've had periods of time in my life (very few) where I was on a cash-only system. They were the most disciplined years of spending in my life. And I could certainly use a little discipline around the holidays. Why? Because I've committed to staying out of debt this year.
Forgive me if I sound like a broken record talking about budgeting all the time. It's just that every morning I wake up and listen to the terrible news about the economy, and I think how much more stressful it would all be if I heaped holiday debt on top of everything else! I mean, I love my family and friends, but gifts for them is not worth the stress! Hopefully you all don't think I'm too sanctimonious either--I'm not preaching. My husband and I spent thousands (yes, it's true) of dollars last year on presents for each other, spent months paying off our purchases, and then decided that this year we were going to be more mellow.
So it's green (and mellow) for me at the stores today. Happy shopping!
Read more of my thoughts on holiday spending: